A great American scientist

Posted on October 30th, 2007 in General,Science by Robert Miller

Many of you know that Arthur Kornberg, Nobel Laureate, passed away this past Monday at the age of 91. He was awarded his Nobel prize in 1959 for his discovery of the enzyme, DNA polymerase, an enzyme essential for generating DNA. This discovery and much of his work has been credited with laying the foundation of the biotechnology revolution and the birth of modern molecular biology. He is one of a handful of scientists who have had relatives win the Nobel Prize, as his son Roger was given the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2006. Just a year before receiving his Nobel Prize in 1959, Arthur Kornberg initially had his seminal papers rejected by a prominent journal, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, only to have them accepted and rapidly published when a new editor came in and saw the merits of his work. So take that to heart when you get a paper rejected…it could be a seminal study:probably is.

Arthur Kornberg was a graduate of the City College of New York in 1937: his graduating class would generate three Nobel Laureates (Kornberg, Herbert A. Hauptman and Jerome Karl). He was chair of Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis and later moved to Stanford to chair the biochemistry department until 1969. He had a knack of recruiting talented people and a nose for getting after significant research. I arrived at Washington University 20 years after Kornberg left for Stanford, but one could still hear stories about his positive impact on that environment which helped to spring Wash U into a prominent position of scientific leadership. He did much the same at Stanford. Sometimes, all it takes is a few good men/women.

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